The Diocese of Brooklyn mounted a vigorous defense of its policies in regards to sexual abuse of minors by clergy after 10 new lawsuits were filed under the Child Victims Act in Brooklyn civil court Monday.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees all Queens parishes, went to great lengths to explain the actions taken after Flushing’s Tom Davis accused Monsignor Otto Garcia of sexually abusing him as a teen when he was an altar boy at St. Michael’s Church in the 1970s.
The Diocesan Review Board, chaired by Joseph Esposito, a retired NYPD Chief of Department and former Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management, which is composed of nine voting members, including lawyers with experience in family law and child abuse, healthcare professionals, a survivor of clergy abuse and a pastor in 2017, unanimously found the allegations against Msgr. Garcia “to be not credible.” The Monsignor was the pastor at St. Joan of Arc in Jackson Heights for 12 years and is currently a parochial vicar at St. Teresa in Woodside.
“Sexual abuse of a minor is a horrendous crime that has hurt children in our Church and in society as a whole. The Diocese of Brooklyn takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously,” the spokesperson said. “On the 10 new cases filed, we are just learning about them and need time to carefully review the allegations made in these lawsuits. But you will see four priests are already on the list of credibly accused priests in February. Four lawsuits involve religious brothers, who are under the direction of their respective religious superiors. One is a layperson.”
The spokesperson explained that the Diocese has apologized to victims who have suffered due to sexual abuse by clergy and has instituted aggressive policies when it comes to child protection. The Diocese conducts initial and ongoing background checks of all employees and volunteers and requires age-appropriate sexual abuse awareness training for children and any adults who work with children.
“We have worked with about 500 victim-survivors through our Independent Reconciliation Compensation program,” the spokesperson added. “We offer various survivor support groups and a yearly Mass of Hope and Healing. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has personally met with victim-survivors to hear their traumatic experiences.”
The Bishop has also been pro-active on the subject, according to the spokesperson, holding listening sessions with parishioners across the diocese where they have had the opportunity to meet with lay officials, two of whom are women and mothers, who play pivotal roles in dealing with the sexual abuse crisis.
“For nearly 20 years, the Diocese of Brooklyn has sought to make our Churches and schools the safest places for children and at the same time acknowledged the failures of the past,” the spokesperson concluded. Over these years, we have sought to express our deep contrition and sorrow for the evil crimes committed by some members of our Church. Today and every day, we stand with the victim-survivors on their journey towards healing.”